Securing employment in the current economic environment can be challenging, even for the most highly-qualified job seeker. In order to secure a permanent job, an unblemished online presence is crucial in order for you to present yourself as a trustworthy employee. We live in a high-tech world, centered around the Internet, where, when searching for a job, you can no longer rely solely on traditional networking, newspapers, pounding the pavement and word-of-mouth. Furthermore, one can no longer rely on traditional online job boards either. You need to take an active role in shaping your “personal brand” online and use it to express your professional aspirations and interests. Social and professional networking sites are great resources for career research, networking, job-searching and staying current in your industry. Follow these simple steps to manage your online presence and strengthen your candidacy:
Google yourself. It’s become common for employers to research the online presence of potential employees. Many employers will Google an applicant’s name before determining if they want to proceed to interview, therefore you need to ensure that your online image is respectable by checking what, if anything, a Google search reveals about you. The results of a Google search are largely determined by site analytics; therefore, websites with the highest traffic and relevance will come up first, and as Facebook is one of the most frequently accessed sites on the Internet today, prospective employers will have immediate access to your profile when they search for you. If there are any pictures that show you partying, in questionable attire, or worse, take the necessary steps to clean up your online image by making it professional and “Google-ready”. This may involve deleting or reconstructing your social networking pages such as MySpace or Facebook, untagging yourself in controversial photos, making your online photo albums private instead of public and keeping all status updates above-board. Remember that inappropriate content about yourself or your employer can be harmful to your career. It is also worthwhile to set up a Google Alert on your name (www.google.com/alerts); which will send you an e-mail whenever your name hits the web.
Develop an online presence. If you do not already have an online presence, you need to create one. One of the simplest ways to create a professional online presence is by joining sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking communities. Once you’ve signed up, begin networking with others in your industry. Through social networking, you can expand your network and create access to opportunities by exponentially increasing the number of people who may be interested in you. Furthermore, your network can provide you with information, advice and resources to assist you in finding a job. Once your online presence is established, grow it, stay in touch with your old connections, continue to make new connections and keep your information current and relevant.
LinkedIn. You probably already use Facebook for your social life; now take advantage of LinkedIn for your professional life. Most experts agree that LinkedIn, which boasts over 100-million-plus users worldwide, is the premier business social networking site and a crucial place to be if you are searching for a job. It acts as an interactive and social resume and allows you to showcase your professional experiences, transferrable skills and recommendations. Once you have created your profile, connect with people already in your professional network. Company profiles allow you to research industries and companies of interest and search for career opportunities. Join industry groups and participate in industry-specific discussions, to find other relevant groups, view profiles of people you respect in your chosen field. There are groups for almost every industry and profession.
Blogging. To further develop your online presence, you can showcase your expertise by either creating an industry-specific blog related to your career interests or by acting as a guest blogger on a blog that already exists within your industry. Furthermore, you can also demonstrate your knowledge by participating in discussions and responding to relevant questions on forums. If a potential employer conducts a search on you and you come across as an expert in your industry, the chances are high that you will be contacted for an interview. Remember, an online presence that showcases your interests, skills, knowledge and experience will be greatly beneficial in securing the job that you are seeking. Many financial services websites have high search engine rankings and therefore if a potential employer Googles you and finds relevant and well-presented material online, your chances of obtaining an interview will be greatly enhanced.
Twitter. Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service that enables users to send and read messages known as ‘tweets’. Twitter can be used to connect with others who share a common interest, to stay updated in your field of interest, and to ask questions and get answers. Once you sign up, you need to search for and follow industry leaders and organisations you are interested in. You can also search all ‘tweets’ on Twitter according to keywords to find people who ‘tweet’ about matters that interest you or to find a job posting that has been ‘tweeted’ about. ‘Tweet’ articles or links that are relevant to people in your field and encourage replies but remember everything you say becomes part of the public domain and visible by anyone (even those who do not follow you can still have access to your ‘tweets’).
Social networking can only increase in popularity as we become more active on the Web, and although traditional job-hunting is still alive and well, you need to be creative in this competitive market and a professional online presence will certainly help in this regard. If you do not have an online identity at all, you may not appear to be in touch and might be passed over for more ‘savvy’ applicants who have online visibility. The key point to bear in mind is that whatever you put on a profile or networking site sends an impression of who you are as an individual and becomes part of your “personal brand” identity. Therefore, manage and capitalise the way the world sees you online by establishing an industry-focused, professional online presence, which will help ensure you attract attention for all the right reasons.